Salisbury Museum

Posted: April 2, 2020 in History, UK, Wiltshire
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On my last trip to Salisbury, I had the opportunity to visit the museum, which is situated in The King’s House, which is on Cathedral Green, opposite the entrance to Salisbury Cathedral.

It focuses on the history of Salisbury and also a collection of works of art

A small but interesting museum, I found the galleries on the city’s history very interesting.

I am lucky to have the Tarn next to where we live and so it has become my daily exercise route. I visited this morning hoping to find some spring migrants.

There were good numbers of geese present and a sign that spring has arrived was evident by the noise and the ‘fights’ breaking out between pairs as they seek to establish their own plot within the Tarn. Our Canada / Greylag pair is back, which makes the 4 years at least that this hybrid pair have bred together. The pair of Egyptian Geese, always early breeders, already have young – 3 as best I could see without getting too close.

As I reached the far side of the tarn I saw a small bird on one of the nesting rafts. It was a Grey Wagtail, often a winter visitor on the Tarn, although I haven’t seen one here this winter, so maybe a passage migrant. It flew from the raft over to the weir which is often a good place to see them during the winter.

Grey Wagtail

As I climbed up to the road, I saw a Nuthatch trying to get into a nest box. This is the second time I have seen this behaviour. I don’t think they can be after anything inside as their diet consists of insects, nuts and seeds, so maybe they are trying to make the hole big enough for them to get inside to use the box (the holes are usually too small).

Keeping going

Posted: March 27, 2020 in Announcements
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Migrant Hawker

We are pretty much on lockdown now except for trips to the shop, to get food, and walks in the park next door. I have a few trips I haven’t written up yet so I will continue with those for the time being and then see where we are, material wise.

Looking forward to emergence of local butterflies and Dragonflies

This church was built within the walls of Portchester Castle around 1130. Originally it was intended to be part of an Augustinian Priory within the walls of the castle. There is evidence of a cloister and some domestic buildings present on the site, but shortly after it was completed the Canons moved to Southwick, perhaps because they lacked space to expand their monastery within the confines of the castle. The church was damaged by a fire set by Dutch prisoners of war in the castle in 1653 and was repaired in 1706 and further restored in 1888.

Adjacent to the church is a lovely cafe, which is highly recommended as a place to stop for a drink or lunch.

A military installation at Portchester dates back to Roman times. Excavations have revealed what was probably a base for the Classis Britannica, the Roman fleet based in the UK. It probably dates from 285-290 AD. The remains of the curtain wall of this base can be seen at Portchester today.

The fort continued in use after the Romans left Britain, as evidenced by the presence of a 10th century Anglo-Saxon hall within the walls and in 904 records show the castle passed into the ownership of the crown. The castle as we see it today dates from the 11th century and was built by William Maudit. He sought where possible to include as much as possible of the still-standing Roman walls within his construction. In 1154 the castle passed to King Henry II and it would remain in royal control for almost 500 years. King Henry and King John were recorded as visitors and it was used to house important prisoners. In 1216, Portchester surrendered to Prince Louis of France, who commanded the French forces supporting the Barons rebelling against King John. It was recaptured by John’s son, Henry III the following year and eventually, the French forces left Britain a few months later. Portchester was important as it was an embarkation point for troops going to France to defend the royal lands there.

The castle was refortified by Edward II in the fourteenth century and it continued to be used by armies campaigning on the continent. Queen Elizabeth, I visited the castle in 1603.

In 1632 Charles I sold the castle to Sir William Uvedale. It was used as a prison, often with prisoners of war from the Anglo-Dutch war (1665-1667), the War of Spanish Succession (1702-1712) and the Napoleonic Wars (19th century).

The morning dawned bright and sunny and I made my way to the north west side of Portsmouth harbour and the town of Portchester. I started my walk just south of the town and walked south towards the castle.

Portchester Castle

There were Redwings in the trees surrounding the water meadows plus a single Blackcap, presumably an overwintering bird rather than an early migrant.

On the mudflats were Oysercatchers, Redshank, Curlew and a single Greenshank.

Deeper water remained further out into the harbour and here there were Red-Breasted Merganser, a Slavonian Grebe and a Great Northern Diver.

Slavonian Grebe.
Photo by Anthony Pope (https://www.flickr.com/photos/4gyp/
Red-Breasted Merganser
Photo by JP Newell (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jpnewell/)

As I retraced my steps towards Portchester a Common Kestrel eyed me from its perch before flying off.

Common Kestrel

Sparkling Starlings

Posted: March 13, 2020 in Birds, Natural History
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When I was at Southsea, I saw these Starlings. The combination of the sun and the rain brought out their plumage to its best effect.

A few days in Portsmouth and a chance to explore the large natural harbours that are found in this area of southern England.

Arriving in Portsmouth in the early afternoon I made my way to Southsea seafront.

On the rocks below Southsea Castle, there is a winter roost of Purple Sandpiper, an uncommon wader which is a winter visitor to the UK and is only found in a few places in Southern England.

The waves are battering the rocks, but I manage to find 2 Purple Sandpipers braving the waves (there have been up to 12 there this winter).

The memorial, which stands in front of the Guildhall in the Market square in Salisbury was dedicated in February 1922 as a memorial to the citizens of the city who had lost their lives in the First World War.

A panel was added after world war II dedicated to those who lost their lives in the “Second World war and all conflicts since”

Henry Fawcett was born in Salisbury in August 1833. He was educated at Kings College School and the University of Cambridge. In 1856 he became a fellow of Trinity Hall. Two years later he was blinded in a shooting accident, but this did not stop him applying to Lincoln’s Inn to study Law, although after a years study he withdrew preferring to concentrate on his study of economics.

He was a defender of Darwin’s theory of evolution and spoke in favour at a number of meetings. In 1863, he was appointed Professor of Political economy at Cambridge. He wrote a number of influential books on economics and in 1883 he was elected rector of Glasgow University.

Fawcett combined his academic career with one in politics. After a number of defeats he was elected as MP for Brighton in 1865 and he held the seat until 1874, when he was elected as MP for Hackney in London a seat which he held until his death 10 years later.

In 1880 Fawcett was appointed Postmaster-General and introduced Post Office Savings Stamps, which allowed people to save at a penny a time. He was also responsible for the introduction of parcel post and postal orders. He was a strong supporter of Women’s Suffrage. He died in November 1884 following an illness and was buried in Cambridge.

This statue can be found in the Market Square in Salisbury